If they're talented and skilled enough to make it to the Olympics, one has to assume that they've also dedicated thousands of hours of hard work and sweat to their craft. In the case of the dressage competitors, it's not just about the athlete: It's about their horses, too. The rider and the animal form an amazing bond, and this story is a testament to the lengths these particular athletes will go to protect their animals -- even if it means sacrificing their chance to achieve gold.
The story is about a Dutch dressage rider named Adelinde Cornelissen. She and her horse were set to win big, but then something unplanned and totally unlucky happened, causing Cornelissen to rethink the entire competition. She posted about her experience below, and you won't believe what she did to preserve the health and wellness of her favorite animal, even if it meant that she'd sacrifice her dreams.
She's won dozens of awards and accolades for her sport, including Olympic silver and bronze, as well as World and European gold medals. She's won all of them with her horse, Parzival
“The first days in Rio went according to plan: a relaxed flight, stabling good, training good,” Adelinde wrote on Facebook. “Parzival feels happy and fit.”
But instead of finishing out the Games, Adelinde decided to retire mid-test — in the middle of the arena, with thousands of people watching.
Scroll down to see the incredible and powerful reason why Adelinde and Parzival’s story of ultimate friendship is going viral…
What could have possibly caused this athlete to take her horse and abandon the goal they worked so hard to achieve?
"I planned to train early on Tuesday morning, so I was at the stable at 6am. Saying good morning to Parzival, I saw the right side of his head was swollen, he had been kicking the walls. I took his temperature: he had a fever of over 40 degrees Celcius, but he still didn’t look sick. He was eating and drinking and while walking I had a hard time keeping up with him, as always.”
"After double checking with the vets here they concluded he was bitten by an insect or spider or some sort of animal, which produces toxins."
"To get the toxins out of his system we gave him fluids. From 6.30 to 15.45hrs we kept him on this. It helps the kidneys to clean up the toxins out of the body."
"The vets at the clinic took swaps from the nose and checked the blood. The temperature dropped gradually and by 15.30 it was 38.4… We then took x-rays from the jaw and echoed the area. Just making sure. All ok."
"Then difficult decisions came… We requested the FEI if we could swap starting places within the team, so Parzi could get a day to recover. Competing on Thursday instead of Wednesday. But the FEI declined."
“The fever was down, which means the toxics are out of his system. There is still a bit of swelling in the jaw, but we cooled it all the time and the swelling gets less…
I agreed to give it a try.
Knowing the story, I took it easy in the warmup and didn’t want to ride full. He was ok, although he didn’t feel very powerful. Normal of course after a day like yesterday.
I walked a lot to save the energy. When I entered I already felt he was giving his utmost and being the fighter he is, he never gives up. But in order to protect him, I gave up. My buddy, my friend, the horse that has given everything for me his whole life does not deserve this.
So I saluted and left the arena."
This athlete made the ultimate sacrifice for the horse that helped her achieve greatness, and reading this story about loyalty and compassion over claiming personal glory is truly inspiring.